Ohio University

Student Spotlight: Jen Thompson

Student Spotlight: Jen Thompson

After spending 20 years teaching in the Federal Hocking School District, Jen Thompson decided to return to school at Ohio University to pursue her doctorate in mathematics education.

“I was interested in looking more deeply at how children learn and how to support that process,” Thompson said. “I had always wanted to go back to school to work on a Ph.D., and Ohio University gave me the opportunity to achieve that goal without moving my family from southeast Ohio.”

Thompson is in her second year of doctoral studies in Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in mathematics. Upon completion of this degree, she will be a three-time Ohio University graduate.

Originally from Ann Arbor, Mich., Thompson came to Ohio University as an undergraduate in 1994 as part of The Patton College of Education’s Creative, Active, and Reflective Educators (CARE) partnership.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Teaching in 1999, she went on to teach at Amesville Elementary School in multiple capacities—as a first grade instructor, a K-6 mathematics coach, and most recently, sixth grade math and science instructor.

While teaching full time, Thompson earned her M.Ed. in Computer Education and Technology in 2004. Around the same time, she was president of her school district’s teachers union, a role she held for 13 years. Working in a rural school district allowed Thompson to play a direct role both in district planning and in students’ lives.

“I found that working in a small district was particularly rewarding because of the personal relationships that you can develop with the families you work with,” Thompson said. “There were so many ways to bring people together and make the district stronger. I enjoyed that teachers in our district were empowered to participate in district planning and leadership,” Thompson said.

Even before the Coronavirus pandemic, switching gears from teacher to graduate student took much adjustment.

“It was not easy to make a big change after doing the same thing for 20,” Thompson said. “The routines and expectations were, for the most part, predictable as a teacher, but this changed first with becoming a student and then with the pandemic.”

As Thompson continues her coursework, works as a mathematics graduate assistant, and supports her two teenagers as they learn remotely, her peers are constantly amazed by her dedication.

“It is the quiet, capable people like Jen that deserve our recognition during these difficult times,” Clinical Educator Andrea Anderson noted. “Jen is impressively organized, impressively generous with her time, and she never hesitates to help those around her. Her interns adore her, her colleagues respect her, and her professors see so much promise in her.”